Going through the motions and keeping up with Covid-19 updates in a digital space was an embarrassingly nonchalant process until life became mechanical almost overnight.
word by Naledi Sibisi
With the extension of South Africa’s national lockdown as a means to contain the spread of the virus and reduce the strain on our healthcare system, the importance of isolation and unity in the era of social distancing has become abundantly clear. By restricting the movement of people and goods and services, we collectively flatten the curve or help delay the spread of the virus at an exponential rate — but what does that feel like in our confined spaces?
Social distancing looks like staying out of contact with people and public spaces unless otherwise necessary; thus making us less susceptible to catching and spreading the virus. With the exception of essential goods and services (including collecting grants, pension or seeking medical attention and the likes), every person is, by law, confined to their homes for the duration of the lockdown. In reality, social distancing feels uncomfortable and over the top at many points. By being physically restricted from everyday practices and interactions — your habits will adjust and you will feel disoriented, uncertain and overwhelmed day in and day out.
What I have fast come to realise is that as social beings, we tend to take our instinctive practices and desires for granted. Whether that looks like taking a morning walk or popping to the store during your lunch break — although seemingly futile in the grand scheme of things, it can still start to feel quite crippling on one’s mind. The Covid-19 pandemic places emphasis on proximity — the proximity to others, as well as surfaces where the virus can supposedly live for a number of days if not cleaned regularly. Social distancing then, is more than not going outside and avoiding interactions — it is about dealing with the discomfort of remaining in your personal bubble as much as possible to keep yourself and others safe; it is a matter of risk management.
With this reasoning, you begin to fall into a habit, I am sure we are all picking up, where you silently repeat the words “this is bigger than me,” at different intervals throughout your day. In doing so, you are individually acknowledging that there is a chance you will not get it completely right, but you are contributing to the fraction that is actively making a difference when you think of the bigger picture. It is much like voting in a national election — you would not want to be those who did not vote thinking your one vote would not make a difference. Individually, you contribute in a more elaborate way than you may realise — in this case, it is by staying home and practically doing nothing for a few weeks. Falling into the category of a young adult who is constantly on the move, I cannot stress how uneasy I have felt both mentally and emotionally over the course of the lockdown. That said, I am cognisant of the fact that at most, annoying me is probably where those emotions will peak.
In the meantime, and for your own sanity, there are a number of things you can do to fill up the gaps during your day. You can begin by quite simply organising and decluttering your living space (rearrange your cupboards, get rid of things you no longer use, rearrange your set up). Consider what you have wanted to do but have not really had the time for; picking up a new skill or hobby during this period not only helps you pass time but trying out new things can also be stimulating for your mind.
“There is plenty of research that shows when we learn something new, and do something that allows us to grow, it can be very powerful,” psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo has said. “Whether you want to learn a language, learn how to cook, or even learn how to put on fake eyelashes, now is the time to do it.”
Naledi Sibisi is a writer and content creator who collaborates with brands to promote them across digital platforms. More recently, she was appointed as the Editor-in-Chief of online magazine and boutique agency — The Throne Magazine. Her duties expanded beyond the editorial scope of work, allowing for her assistance with campaign strategies and execution on the part of the agency which sparked her passion for influencing and content creating.